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Senator Shaheen, Secretary Vilsack, and Commissioner Merrill Meet with Farmers

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Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson, owners of Miles Smith Farm speak with Secretary Vilsack and Senator Shaheen Secretary Vilsack (left) and New Hampshire Farmers
Secretary Vilsack (foreground) listens to New Hampshire farmers' concerns
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Senator Shaheen and NRCS State Conservationist, Rick Ellsmore
Senator Shaheen, Secretary Vilsack, and NH Commissional of Agriculture, Lorraine Merrill
NHACD Executive Director and Middlebranch Farm owner, Roger Noonan explains his concerns to Senator Shaheen

August 19, 2014
Loudon, NH

Secretary Thomas Vilsack, Senator Jeanne Shaheen, NH Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill, NRCS State Conservationist Rick Ellsmore, Rural Development Director Ted Brady, and FSA District Director Keith Farrell met with local farmers at a roundtable discussion hosted by Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson, owners of Miles Smith Farm.  Invited to attend were:  Martha Crete of Highway View Farm, Steve Normanton of Steve Normanton Grass Fed Beef, Doug Cole of Cole Gardens, Rob Larouque of Carter Hill Orchards, Jeff Holmes, President of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau, Dorn Cox of Tuckaway Farm and the 2nd Vice President of the NH Association of Conservation Districts, Jim McCullough and Tim Meeh of North Family Farm, Luke Mahoney of Brookford Farm, Roger Noonan of Middlebranch Farm, NHACD Executive Director, and New England Farmers Union President, Trevor and Chip Hardy of Brookdale Fruit Farm, Chuck and Diane Souther of Apple Hill Farm, and Chris Pfeil of The Maple Guys. 

The discussion centered around the benefits and challenges of the new Farm Bill, the Food Security Management Act, the proposed clean water rule, local agriculture and the success of the local foods movement in New Hampshire.

Secretary Vilsack was also at the farm to announce the Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant Program, of which Miles Smith Farm is a recipient.  Secretary Vilsack highlighted the importance of rural entrepreneurs to the U.S. economy and announced investments to help rural businesses grow, diversify and create jobs. USDA is investing $25 million to help 247 businesses nationwide expand their operations and create new products to market. The Value-Added Grant Program helps agricultural producers grow their businesses by turning raw commodities into value-added products, expanding marketing opportunities and developing new uses for existing products.

"The funding we are announcing today will have far-reaching, positive impacts in rural communities across the country," Vilsack said. "The investments will help businesses create new products, expand their operations, and support local and regional food systems. The new Farm Bill expands this program to provide even more of these opportunities."  See full press release.